Is Ben McLemore a lock to go second overall with Orlando?
The beauty of a top-three pick in the NBA draft lies in the prospect of security. While this draft has been criticized for its lack of depth, there is no denying the potential any of the top picks present, and this is certainly something the Orlando Magic can take comfort in despite “losing” the draft. Although they weren’t as jubilant as the Cleveland Cavaliers' front office was, they can rest easy knowing they will still acquire a kid who will be a productive part of their future.
Even if the Magic don’t get the guy they want via the draft, they will also have the luxury of possessing a lucrative bargaining chip with the second overall pick. Don’t like the talent left on the board? No problem, just hit up another GM and swap the pick for guaranteed talent.
So what are the likeliest scenarios considering Orlando has some versatility regarding what it does with its draft positioning?
Draft Ben McLemore
The Magic were no question a strange team to watch this season. Yes, they were depleted of big names and wins, but they were a team that played better than their record indicates. They were a team that played hard every single night, and no matter who they faced, they often displayed an effort unlike that of a lottery-bound team laying down in full-on tank mode.
Keeping this in mind, it would be wise for the Magic to further solidify their talent base with another hard-working, hard-nose type of prospect and seek to add Ben McLemore, the smooth-shooting swingman from Kansas University.
The Magic need guard play, and they need it desperately. The past few years, even their years with the much-maligned Dwight Howard, Orlando’s 2-guard spot was always shaky. It cycled through the likes of J.J. Redick and Vince Carter, but it never really had a long-term fit that could really make an impact.
Ok, so McLemore could make an impact, great, but how big of an impact?
Well, considering his age (he’s 20) and skill set, let’s go with a slight dent. McLemore is by no means a game-changer at this stage in his career. He’s got hops, he’s aggressive driving to the rim, he has a mechanically sound jump shot and he’s got nice defensive potential.
Downside? He can’t really create for himself, sometimes he has a tendency to be a bit too passive and again, he’s more of an “in-the-flow” kind of player. He’s a guy that thrives within an offense, but at the next level he’d be asked to really be a catalyst individually.
He needs to work on his dribbling, continue to make strides on his stroke and assess how he’d fit in with the Magic, but considering their positional need for a shooting guard, it wouldn’t hurt to take McLemore, although his value is extremely inflated due to the lack of depth in this draft.
Draft Trey Burke
Continuing with our trend for guard play, another option on the table is Michigan’s Trey Burke. He’s an undersized guard for the next level at 6’1”, but you wouldn’t believe it if you saw the kid play. He’s small, but he plays with a certain kind of fearlessness few players have; he flat-out has the makings of a star.
OK, before the aggrandizing goes too far, let’s be realistic. He’s great, but he’s still small and a bit on the finesse side; athletically a lot is left to be desired, not to mention he could be a serious defensive liability considering his size.
There will always be road bumps, especially for guys like Burke who might not get by off quickness alone at the next level. However, the big-time-play potential is there in Burke. He was already canning off-the-dribble NBA-range three-pointers in adrenaline-pumping tournament games, and he’s already used to being depended on to shoulder the weight of a program on his lonesome.
He wasn’t exactly playing with scrubs during his time with the Wolverines, but there was no question he was the de facto leader of their contingent. While Orlando still has veteran point guard Jameer Nelson bringing the ball up, it wouldn’t hurt to expedite the changing of the guard process in O-Town.
Burke would not only provide a legit option for years to come, but more than that. His style of play (he’s more of a creator than an off-ball guy) would certainly be something Orlando can market to the fans as a star.
While a new point guard isn’t necessarily a dire need, it wouldn’t hurt to bring Burke aboard.
Trade the Pick For Guaranteed Talent
Ok, we’ve all heard it a million times—this draft isn’t anything like 2003, but so what?
Well, some franchises can’t afford to wait around for another ’03, and they certainly can’t mess about and pick someone who might be seriously overrated due to the minimal amount of top-tier talent in this draft.
That being said, there is always the ability for Orlando to trade away the pick for some guaranteed talent.
So whom should Orlando target? Assuming all the dominoes fall how they should, Milwaukee would be a perfect target because it features two guards, both of whom would jump at the chance to shoot as much as they’d like as the primary option.
Out of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, if the Magic had to trade for one of them, they’d probably be better off getting Ellis. Ellis is more of a dynamic scorer, and the fact he can play the 2-guard spot means Orlando can simply plug him in and let him get acclimated with the new squad.
Monta does have a player option, but if Orlando gets lucky and he doesn’t opt out, he wouldn’t be a bad fit. Adding a young player to a young squad would do more good than harm, and he would be instantly electrifying for the Orlando fans to watch.
Although guaranteed talent is tantalizing, the Magic will probably sit tight and just draft McLemore. If they have a change of heart, Burke will certainly be there.
No matter what Orlando plans to do with its pick, Orlando will at least get on the right track toward building a playoff-caliber squad…or at least one that can exceed its abysmal 20-win record of this past season.